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15 YEARS AGO … (Oct. 10-16, 1995)

Report links NDP to Nanaimo bingo scam

Premier Mike Harcourt brushed aside calls for his resignation this week after the release of a politically damaging report into the New Democratic Party's financial ties with the Nanaimo Commonwealth Holding Society.

Made public Friday, more than four months after it was delivered to RCMP investigators, the report by forensic auditor Ron Parks found that the NDP secretly returned $60,200 to the NCHS in 1993 in an effort to cover up the party's ties to the Nanaimo charity.

The money was meant to repay funds, plus interest, that were raised by an NDP-run lottery scheme and diverted to the party through an arm of NCHS in 1983 and 1984.

In an effort to identify and cover up any transactions linking the society to the NDP, the party executive approved a $60,200 payment to Democrat Publications, publisher of the NDP's newspaper, which forwarded the money to the NCHS.

Mr. Harcourt, who previously assured the public there were no ties between his party and the NCHS, said the audit contains no evidence implicating him or the provincial government.

Flash forward: Cracks in the solidarity of Mr. Harcourt's caucus appeared two weeks later when the Premier fired Housing Minister Joan Smallwood for publicly questioning his leadership.

25 YEARS AGO … (Oct. 10-16, 1985)

Last-minute deal saves Ocean Falls

Plans to bulldoze the tiny coastal community of Ocean Falls were called off this week after residents reached a last-minute agreement with the provincial government.

Residents' council chairman Gunter Hogrefe said the tentative deal calls for the preservation of about 60 per cent of the original town site and 100 per cent of houses in the newer Martin Valley subdivision.

The provincial government, which took control of Ocean Falls when mill owner Crown Zellerbach abandoned the site in 1973, had proposed razing about 80 per cent of the town as a cost-saving measure.

When workers arrived in August to begin the demolition, the community's remaining 50 residents blocked the main road and even climbed aboard a backhoe to halt to destruction of a duplex.

Located about 60 kilometres west of Bella Coola, the once-thriving mill town had a population of about 3,500 during its heyday in the 1950s. About 1,800 people lived in Ocean Falls when the province shut down the mill in 1980.

Flash forward: While only about three-dozen people live in the community year-round, many of its original buildings remain, making Ocean Falls one of B.C.'s most intriguing ghost towns.

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